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Read Steven Cosby's blog for important ACA updates, health care insurance news and employer sponsored plan updates on our blog.

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Is someone else getting rich of your medical data?

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You may never have heard of it,  but many private corporations know an awful lot about your medical history.

One such company based in Danbury, Connecticut, IMS (ims) buys bulk data from pharmacy chains such as CVS (cvs, -0.56%), doctor’s electronic record systems such as Allscripts, claims from insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and from others who handle your health information. The data is supposed to be anonymized—stripped from the identifiers that identify individuals. In turn, IMS sells insights from its more than half a billion patient dossiers mainly to drug companies.

So-called health care data mining is a growing market.  Last week, the company reported 2015 net income of $417 million on revenue of $2.9 billion, compared with a loss of $189 million in 2014 (an acquisition also boosted revenue over the year). “The outlook for this business remains strong,” CEO Ari Bousbib said in announcing the earnings.

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Trump Administration to Dismantle SHOP Exchange

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Frankly the ACA Small Business Health Options Program, SHOP Exchange, never really took off.  The Obama Administration had big plans for small and larger employers to eventually purchase their employer-sponsored plans through these ACA exchanges. However, it was a bit more “complicated” than the original designers ever thought.  Getting subsidies for these smaller business was too often out of reach and unattainable pursuant to the IRS qualifying rules.

The Trump administration said Monday that it will dismantle part of the Affordable Care Act that created online insurance marketplaces for small businesses and tried in vain foster a greater choice of health plans for their workers.

In starting with the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, the administration is targeting an aspect of the ACA that has been troubled from the outset and never lived up to its proponents’ expectations. As of early this year, federal figures show, nearly 230,000 people were covered through SHOP health plans — a fraction of the 4 million that congressional budget analysts had predicted as the small-business marketplaces began in 2014.

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Cataract Surgery for $20

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The doctors were “gods” to an old, blind Burmese woman whose sight was restored by a quick operation.  Cataracts had stolen her sight for years, while others had been blind for decades – before the simple operation allowed them to see again. Bill Whitaker reports from Burma, also known as Myanmar, where two eye surgeons were bringing their program that has already reversed blindness in over 4 million people and could help to eliminate cataract and other reversible blindness in the developing world.

The story of co-founders Drs. Geoff Tabin and Sanduk Ruit, and their revolutionary, low-cost, 10-minute procedure caught the attention of 60 Minutes, the prestigious CBS television news magazine. The eye surgeons started the Himalayan Cataract Project to eradicate as much unnecessary blindness as possible, and so far, together with partners have screened and treated over 7.3 million people, provided more than 625,000 sight-restoring surgeries and trained hundreds of other doctors.

Read more click here. $20 Cataract Surgery  

Watch video click here. Out of the Darkness


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Executive Order: 2016 Employer ACA Reporting. 6055, 6056, 1094, 1095

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The recent executive order directed federal agencies to exercise authority and discretion available to them to reduce potential burden.‎ Consistent with that, the IRS has decided to make changes that would continue to allow electronic and paper returns to be accepted for processing in instances where a taxpayer doesn’t indicate their coverage status.

This notice extends the due date for certain 2016 information-reporting requirements for insurers, self-insuring employers, and certain other providers of minimum essential coverage under section 6055 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) and for applicable large employers under section 6056 of the Code. Specifically, this notice extends the due date for furnishing to individuals the 2016 Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, and the 2016 Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, from January 31, 2017, to March 2, 2017. This notice also extends good-faith transition relief from section 6721 and 6722 penalties to the 2016 information-reporting requirements under sections 6055 and 6056.

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Cures Act and the FDA

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Obama and the White House provided strong support for the Act. But others, such as Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and
Bernie Sanders (I-VT), believe that the provisions that may compromise the FDA’s ability to ensure the efficacy and safety of
medical products outweigh the law’s positives. We focus here on the potential changes the Act will have on the regulation of
medical products and the resulting effects on physician and patient trust in the safety and efficacy of those products. Consumers
need to be aware of these changes and must understand that the evidence required for drug approval may be less rigorous that
it has been in the past. This primarily affects newly approved drugs, or drugs with newly approved indications.

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ACA: Repeal, Replace, Repair………

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HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell gave a farewell address praising the accomplishments of the ACA, while President Barack Obama met with congressional
Democrats to cheer them on in resisting efforts to undermine it.

On January 20, 2017, the winds abruptly changed.Within minutes of his inauguration,President Donald Trump issued an executive order instructing departments
and agencies responsible for implementing the ACA, “to the maximum extent permitted by law,” to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision” of the ACA in order to minimize costs and regulatory burdens on the states, insurers, purchasers, providers, or medical product manufacturers; “provide greater flexibility to States”; and “encourage…a free and open market in interstate commerce for…healthcare services and health insurance.”

The Trump administration has taken few concrete actions affecting the ACA. Read more


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The Demise of Obamacare Repeal and Replace

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That line appeared to be reinforced over the weekend when President Trump said, in a pre-Super Bowl interview, that the process could draw out into next year. My sense is that what Trump was talking about was the fact that the whole process, that includes implementing the replacement, could take well past 2017. Trump, never one for getting the details right, was taken literally by the press looking to write stories about how the whole process was foundering.

Speaker Paul Ryan quickly countered in his press briefing that Republicans will legislate a repeal and replace of Obamacare this year.

As I have reported to you a number of times, that process, especially the replace part, will be very difficult to achieve given the need to have at least eight Democrats onside with a complete replace bill.

Continue reading….


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